Sunday, May 16, 2010

Memorial For The King's Mother

Not far from the Doi Mae Salong village is a Memorial for the King's mother. It's on the other route down the mountain. We stopped for a couple of hours to take some photos and to watch the ranges of mountains and the other villages from the other side.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Doi (Mountain) Mae Salong

My cousin's wife prepared for the breakfast. She cooks Chinese porridge and some Thai style dishes. The meal taste yummy, spicy hot and delicious. The Thai way of saying very delicious is 'aloy mak mak'. Short while after breakfast, we proceed for our tour around Chang Rai.
Our first stop is The Doi Mae Salong.

The peak of Doi Mae Salong has an elevation close to 1,800 meters. Many hill resorts, large and small can be seen as we approached the little town on top. Pine trees, Oolong tea plantation and beautiful panorama are everywhere to be seen.

It is said that the origin of the Mae Salong community goes back to 1949. During that time, after the Mao Zedong's communist party victory in China, the defeated KMT army escaped to Taiwan except the 93rd Division. They instead fled to Myanmar (Burma). From there, they were later expelled and granted asylum in Thailand. The 93rd Chinese division settled in Mae Salong and built village right on top of the mountain. As a result, most of the villagers today are ethnic Chinese and direct descendants of the KMT.

We stop for lunch at the Chinese township. I noticed that most of the people there speak fluent Mandarin or also called as 'Pu'dong Hua'. They serve excellent Chinese dishes from Yunnan province. The most popular dish is the 'Red Pork Legs'.

Many Chinese products can be found here especially tea leafs and tea pots. Of course there are other souvenirs too made by the hill tribe people who lived nearby.

After lunch and some shopping along the road stalls, we proceed to our next stop at Wat Rong Kun ( The White Temple )

Friday, May 14, 2010

Too Steep Terrain

We arrived Chang Rai town past mid night. We stopped for dinner before meeting up with the other cousin who came down to meet us somewhere along the way to lead us to his house. The meeting point is at the front entrance of a Buddhist Temple along the way. Surprisingly, there are so many large Buddhist Temples all along.
My first plan was to stay at my cousin's house for a few days in Chang Rai. But looking at it, the road which lead to his house is a few kilometers away from the main road. I have doubts about the availability of public transport to get in and out from his place. I was told that the only way is to ride his motorbikes when my elder cousin and the family is back to Bangkok. That does not deter me. After about 5 kilometers from the main road and with many turnings to left and right, we came to the end road. Now we have to go through dirt road. For a short distance we reached a very steep terrain. That's where the 4x4 is useful. The terrain was so steep almost 75 degree, and that worries me. However after changing gear, with his driving skill, we make it after many bumps.
We reached the top of the mountain where my cousin's house is located. It's a small farm house-like uncompleted. The weather is cold during the night, as I was told. WE didn't get to see much at the surrounding as it was dark. We chatted for about an hour before going to sleep.
I woke up early to explore the surrounding. We were at the peak of a mountain which I don't even know where. I was told that we are close to Myanmar and there are a few Myanmar settlers and villages nearby. Surrounding us are mostly fruit farms such as lychee's, oranges, pamelos and mangoes and tea plantations although some have converted to rubber trees as they fetch better prices. The panorama from his house was great and I anticipate a lot of adventuring activities to take place for us after the elder cousin is back to Bangkok with his SUV 4x4 Toyota Fortuna.

Great views, fresh air, cool weather, variety of fruits and lots of interesting places to explore by tracking and motor bike .

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Narathiwat To Bangkok

We left home at about 6.30 am when the sun is about to rise. We stopped half way for breakfast at the one of the famous 'nasi lauk' (rice with curry fish and chicken) stall in Pasir Mas. It's almost 7.30am when we arrived at the Rantau Panjang check point. We crossed the Malaysian border immediately and walk across to the Thailand check point without wasting much time. There was some delayed at the Thai side as the Immigration counter didn't offer any deportation forms. We have to use the local service to fill the forms by paying RM$2.00 each for each forms. This is one of the way the Thai Immigration Officers earn extra income by employing the local Thais to fill forms for travelers. Than we later took a motorcycle each for the service to reach DD Tour Agency for our next transportation to Narathiwat Airport. Each motorcycle cost us RM$3.00 for a distance of about 1 kilometer. We were slightly early. The van service left for the airport at 8.30 am. The van service cost RM18.00 per person. The distance is about 45 minutes and there were many road blocks along the way by the Thai armies because of the insurgencies at the Southern Thai area.

And here is the interior of the luxury van we took to Narathiwat Airport which can accommodate 11 passengers.

The departure hall for the waiting guests before boarding the Air Asia flight. There were only 2 flights per day from Narathiwat. The other is 1-2-go airline. The announcement came informing that our plane will be 1 hour delayed while inside the hall. That's the usual Air Asia's stuffs.

The sky view from our flight.

Bird's eye view before approaching Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

The view when we almost landed at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. We were received by my cousin at the arrival hall. Stopped at his house to fetch the family before proceeding to Chang Rai with his Toyota Fortuner SUV 4x4.